| Traffic crawls in knee-deep water on Chittaranjan Avenue on Saturday. Picture by Pradip Sanyal
Normal life was thrown out of gear after torrential rains lashed the city and its suburbs since Saturday morning. Several areas remained waterlogged till late in the evening as most of the drainage pumps of Calcutta Municipal Corporation could not be pressed into service.
According to the Alipore Meteorology office, the rains were the outcome of a deep depression that had developed on Friday night. The depression subsided on Saturday afternoon and is moving northwest.
Many passengers missed flights, as they could not reach the airport in time. Even the pilot of a Delhi-bound flight could not report in time. According to airport officials, seven flights were delayed and those who missed flights have been accommodated in other flights. Two local trains were cancelled in the afternoon due to waterlogging on the tracks at Bidhannagar.
Traffic was disrupted for hours across the city as thousands of vehicles remained stranded. Police officials manning important road-intersections, too, sought shelter during the shower, adding to the chaos.
Former chief minister Jyoti Basu got stranded in Salt Lake around 1.30 pm on his way back to Indira Bhavan from the CPM headquarters. There was knee-deep water on the road connecting EM Bypass with Salt Lake, beside Yuva Bharati Krirangan. Engineers of the Bidhannagar municipality said many places of the township were water-logged as Kestopur canal was flowing four feet above the level of the drainage pipes.
Transport department officials said many private bus and minibus operators had to withdraw their vehicles at noon due to waterlogging. Tram services also remained suspended in some places since tracks remained under knee-deep water. Government employees were spared, as their offices were closed. But schoolchildren got drenched on their way home.
The worst-affected areas were Amherst Street, Maniktala Main Road, Narkeldanga Main Road, Chittaranjan Avenue, Ultadanga and Baguiati in north Calcutta and Behala, Jadavpur, Garden Reach and Santoshpur in south Calcutta. Maniktala experienced the highest rainfall 117.5 mm according to the civic drainage department. The Alipore Met office recorded 32.2 mm.
Circular Rail services were disrupted at noon after a boundary wall collapsed on the track near Bagbazar. Besides, tracks were submerged at Tallah station near Ultadanga.
There was commotion near the crossing of Vivekananda Road and Amherst Street after a huge tree got uprooted and fell on a crowded private bus on route 78/1. There was no casualty. But traffic movement could not be restored for hours. An old building collapsed near Kankurgachhi. Residents came out on the streets in Cossipore, Beleghata, Ultadanga, Santoshpur and Garden Reach to protest waterlogging.
Deputy commissioner of police, traffic division, M.K. Singh blamed the traffic jam on the waterlogging. We are in constant touch with the CMC officials, providing them information about the waterlogged areas. But they took a long time to drain out the stagnant water.
Mala Roy, mayor-in-council member in charge of drainage, said CMC pumps could not be operated in vast stretches of north Calcutta due to a record rainfall of 120 mm. The situation started improving only when the rain stopped in the afternoon. All 11 pumps have been pressed into service to drain out the accumulated water, she added.